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Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles, and backstories are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story may best be classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story involving the characters Xena: Warrior Princess and Gabrielle. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read something other than this story.
This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
This story takes place after "A Day in the Life," when their love and mutual devotion was at its highest point.
Gabrielle in the Moonlight
by Alan Plessinger
Gabrielle cocked her head to one side in an attitude of contemplation.
"Now, let's go over this again. You ran from the giant, and to goad him into running after you, you said..."
"You couldn't catch a cold."
Gabrielle's lovely features reflected the dissatisfaction she clearly felt.
"Doesn't work," she said.
"I told you before," said the warrior, "I'm not Xena: Stand-up Comic."
"Then you shouldn't try to be funny. Those who don't know how to be entertaining should not get in the way of those of us who know what we're doing."
"I thought the idea was to stick to the truth."
"There's no point in ruining any good story with too much truth. The dialogue at this point should be riveting, and that line does not rivet. It does not even staple. I need a good line about being slow. How about..."
Gabrielle struck the attitude of a performer, and said,
"'You couldn't figure out how to pour water out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the heel!'"
"What?" asked Xena, more confused than annoyed.
"No, wait, that's the wrong kind of slow. But that's good, I'll have to remember that the next time Joxer comes around. How about..."
Again, she struck the same performing attitude, and said,
"'You couldn't win a footrace with a snail, if the snail was two years dead.'"
"That's terrible. And snails don't have feet."
"Those who can't be funny, teach."
"I'm going to get us some game," said Xena. She got up from the campsite and headed off into the woods. "I'm sorry I ever said anything to that giant. I'm sorry I ever told you I said anything."
"Oh c'mon, Xena, don't be mad! I was just kidding, I'll put down what you said! Xena!"
Xena stalked off into the woods alone. She was not feeling well, and was hoping to hide it from Gabrielle, hoping it would get better. But it was only getting worse. The symptoms were fever and headache, and a general weariness and weakness and dizziness.
She couldn't think what she might've been doing to bring this on. She had felt better than this after fighting forty men. Could this be a trick of the gods? Sometimes there are no obvious reasons for diseases to happen. A man might wake up feeling perfectly healthy one day, be in his sickbed by nightfall, and dead in a week.
What might she do if she were still a warlord? Charge into battle, and hope to get wounded so that she might have a chance to rest and fight off the fever. To do anything less would be to lose the respect of her men.
Well, Gabrielle was no army, and if Xena was any worse by morning she would have to swallow her pride and tell Gabrielle that they needed to get to a healer. Gabrielle knew when it was OK to tease in a playful way, and when it was time to appreciate that Xena was admitting a weakness she wasn't proud of. This fever and dizziness could seriously effect her ability to defend both herself and Gabrielle.
After the hunt, Xena came back to the campsite carrying a few rabbits she had field-dressed. Her breath was caught short by the sight of Gabrielle in the moonlight.
"By the gods!" she thought. "Could she possibly know what she does to me? She must know. Look how she's arranged herself, like posing for a portrait."
Gabrielle had put her feet up on the log she was sitting on, with her scroll on her knees and her adorable face tilted to one side, attending her muse. Xena was used to seeing Gabrielle's reddish-gold hair capture the sunlight, but this was the first time she realized how perfect she looked with the indigo twilight behind her and the flames of the campfire dancing in her soft green eyes.
Xena felt the old familiar feelings of desire stir within her. It was almost enough to make her forget how sick she was feeling.
"Whoa, Xena. Time for another long dip in a cold stream."
Xena knew that if she asked, this lovely young woman would be on her knees before the warrior, doing anything that was asked of her, whether it disgusted her or not. But was it what Gabrielle wanted?
Xena had many times imagined herself bringing the matter up with her, but she just couldn't get herself to imagine Gabrielle reacting with anything but disgust. Well, Xena herself had never had a flicker of desire for another woman before Gabrielle came along. But she had never felt this depth of love for anyone, before. Anyone who knew Gabrielle couldn't help but love her, and to think that Gabby had willingly cast her lot with this moody, dark warrior...it was just too good.
"How will I screw this up?" thought Xena.
Did this innocent young girl even know about intimate sexual relations between two women? Xena tried to imagine herself bringing this up, and Gabrielle joyously leaping into her arms in an expression of relief and mutual attraction, but the images just wouldn't come. If only there was some way to read her mind.
Xena imagined Gabrielle's mind. She imagined herself being able to look into her soul. Like a peaceful meadow on a warm spring day, a gentle breeze blowing, the melodic call of songbirds filling the air.
And then there was Xena's soul. A war-ravaged landscape, dark and foreboding, the piercing shriek of birds of prey echoing across the plane.
"She will leave me eventually," thought Xena. "And I wouldn't blame her for a minute. Nothing good ever stays in my life for long. The only thing to do is to just enjoy her company while it lasts."
Gabrielle looked up and smiled her sweet, lovely smile as Xena returned to the campsite, and Xena smiled in return. It took some effort to remember that they had been bickering. Who could stay mad at this gentle child of the universe for long?
"I put down what you said. 'You couldn't catch a cold.' I put that down."
"Really, Gabrielle, put down what you like. I didn't mean to interfere."
"It's just that your line will be a groaner. The audience won't like it, and they always blame the bard. They'll think the line is mine."
"OK, so I'm not funny."
"It's just that there's so few things you don't do perfectly, I can't help needling you when I find out there's actually something you can't do."
"Gabrielle, there's a world of things I can't do. I can't walk into a strange town and have small children be drawn to me, wanting to play and talk and be cuddled. I envy you sometimes."
"I thought you didn't like children."
"I don't, until I see you with them. And then I wish that things had been different.Why couldn't I have been like Hercules? Children love him because he's a hero. It doesn't seem to matter how many villages I save, how many warlords or giants I defeat, children still run from me in fear. Ah, well. I don't know how many times I've wished that my life could be different, but I don't even know that I'd be any happier in another life."
And Gabrielle would be a slave girl, and that beautiful light would be forever gone from her eyes, and the world would not be the better for it. Gabrielle's stories will change the world one day. Her message of peace and brotherhood is only now beginning to spread all across the world, and will continue long after she is gone.
"I'll tell you the truth," said Xena, unusually talkative for some reason, "I actually kind of liked it when Minya reacted that way to me, when we first met her. That must be what it's like to be Hercules. I don't think I can remember another time when anyone had such a positive reaction to me. Not counting you, of course."
Gabrielle slid off the log and sat close to her friend, and smiled. Her green eyes sparkled.
"Xena, count me. Please."
Oh, Gabrielle. What would be so terrible about reaching across to that sweet lovely face, and stroking her cheek, and passionately kissing those adorable parted lips?
And watching her react in disgust. In shock. In horror.
To be able to face an army of warriors and not show the slightest trace of fear. To be able to bravely face any terror the world has to offer. Anything but rejection from Gabrielle.
By the gods, it's a joke.
"Let's get some sleep," said Xena.
The next morning Xena reluctantly admitted to her friend that she was sick, and had to see a healer. They packed up their belongings quickly, Gabrielle doing most of the work because Xena was starting to get dizzier, and it was difficult to stand or move or even bend down to pick up their new frying pan.
The healer she had in mind was two days away. They made good time the first day, Gabrielle riding behind Xena on Argo. The second day was mostly spent with Gabrielle leading Argo, and Xena flopped face down on Argo's back and neck, barely conscious and holding on from pure reflex.
The old healer wasted no time getting Xena off her horse and into his cabin. He made a concoction of potent herbs in an aqueous solution, but he couldn't get the liquid down Xena's throat, so he put some of the medicine on the head of a pin and used the pin to prick a vein and inject the medicine directly into Xena's bloodstream, a process Gabrielle had never before seen.
The healer told Gabrielle the name of the illness, a latin name which she had no interest in, but tried to remember anyway in case it might be important. He went on to tell her many things about the illness, everything but the one thing she cared about.
"How serious is it?" she asked.
"Children have died from this fever, and even some very strong men. But Xena is beyond strong. She has a very good chance, but she needs to rest, and we need to keep her warm. The next twenty-four hours should tell the story one way or the other."
By nightfall they had Xena stripped naked and fitfully dozing under a large bearskin rug, in a warm room with a good fire going. Gabrielle was exhausted, but was afraid to leave her friend. Despite her fever, Xena was shivering.
"Cold...so cold..." said Xena. Without hesitating, Gabrielle took off her green top and pulled her skirt down to her ankles. Out of modesty she kept her back to the healer. The boots came off next, and Gabrielle slipped under the bearskin with her friend.
"That could be dangerous," said the healer. "This fever has been known to be contagious."
"Well, I wouldn't want to put myself in any danger just for Xena," said Gabrielle.
Xena's large body folded around Gabrielle's smaller one, and again it was pure reflex, like a venus flytrap. Usually it was Gabrielle that needed warmth, and Xena's body that was providing it. Tonight it was the other way around. It tookno time at all for them both to drift off into a peaceful slumber.
Gabrielle was awakened by an anguished cry from her friend. Xena was holding both hands in front of her, her palms cupped and her fingers gnarled, protecting herself from an unseen entity.
"Get away from me!" she said. "By the gods, you don't know who you're dealing with!"
But despite her words, her arms were bent in such a way as to indicate that her unseen attacker was making some progress against her. Gabrielle's head was resting on her friend's ribcage, and she had no doubt that her friend was only in the grips of some terrible hallucination, but nevertheless she placed her palms on the backs of Xena's hands, and pushed.
"C'mon!" said Gabby. "We'll take him on together! There is no fight you'll ever have to face alone. Not ever!"
But no matter how hard Gabrielle pushed, Xena still seemed to be losing ground against this thing, whatever it was.
"What is it that's attacking us?" asked Gabby.
"Can't you see it?"
"Describe it, Xena!"
"It's dark. It's terrible."
"Then laugh at it, Xena. You must laugh at it."
"There's nothing to laugh at."
"The only truly undefeatable weapon of the human race is laughter. There is no defense against laughter."
"There's nothing to laugh at," repeated Xena. So Gabrielle rolled over and dug her fingers into Xena's ribs, then tried to tickle her in the stomach. No response.
Inspiration seized her. Gabrielle climbed up to Xena's neck, and started licking her.
"Xena, I'm a puppy!" she said.
Ah well, dignity is highly overrated, anyway. She started licking Xena's face, and licking her behind her ears.
"I'm a puppy, Xena! I'm your little puppy, Xena."
Finally, Xena was able to smile, and then laugh. The hands that were held before her in terror were clutching this little puppy in pure delight. And Gabrielle could not stop being a puppy, because Xena could not stop laughing. Gabrielle kept licking, and kept nuzzling, and kept thinking of other things that a puppy would do.
"Mew, mew, mew," said Gabrielle.
Finally Xena begged her to stop. Xena was breathless from laughter. Gabriellereluctantly stopped being a puppy, and let Xena get back to sleep.
Gabrielle sat at the table before a single candle, staring thoughtfully at the flickering flame as she enjoyed a mug of chamomile tea. The healer came shuffling over to the table and sat down. Gabrielle looked at him, and the healer smiled.
"I'm not going to pretend I didn't hear that."
Gabrielle smiled, clearly embarrassed.
"Not my proudest moment," she said.
"Don't ever be ashamed of bringing laughter and joy to anyone, my dear. Laughter is good medicine."
"The best," said the bard.
"I wouldn't go as far as all that, but it's damn good. Come take a look at your sleeping warrior."
They went to the door of Xena's room, and looked at Xena sleeping peacefully with a beatific smile on her face. The worst of the fever seemed to be over.
"I've treated her and her men many times, but I've never seen her like this. Youhave an amazing effect on her. But you know that."
They went back to the table, not wishing to disturb her.
"You shouldn't say anything you don't want her to hear," said Gabrielle. "She has ears like a bat. Don't ever assume she's asleep just because her eyes are closed."
"Her fever will dull her senses. But you're right, it's best not to assume anything with Xena."
"I'm just glad I was able to bring her some measure of relief when she needed it. She does so much for so many people, puts herself in unimaginable danger every day, trying to aid the innocent and the helpless. By the gods, I just admire her so much. I'm so glad any time I can do anything to help her."
"You've risked your life too, Gabrielle."
"Not like her."
"Tell me, what might you do if one day she intentionally hurts you? I mean really, really hurts you?"
Gabrielle looked surprised. "Why would she do that?"
The old healer moved his face closer to the flickering candlelight so that Gabrielle could just make out a scar under his eye.
"See that? She did that to me. She didn't think her men were recovering fast enough."
Gabrielle sat back and took another sip of her tea.
"That was a long time ago. A lifetime ago. A lot has changed since then."
"There are events so traumatic that they could profoundly change any one of us, Gabrielle. And she loves you very much. Love and hate are not opposites, they are both the result of passionate feelings. The opposite of love is indifference, and she could never feel indifferent toward you."
"Are you saying that she will hate me one day? Are you a seer?"
"No. After what she did to me I'm lucky I can see at all. I'm just someone who considers himself a good judge of character, is all."
"You don't know her like I do."
"No, I don't. But take my advice. If she ever intentionally hurts you, leave her. It doesn't have to be forever. You can come back to her eventually. But don't let her get away with it. Make her see what she's done, or she'll just do it again."
Gabrielle shook her head. "I can't. I love her too much. And I've dedicated myself to her, no matter what. I couldn't leave her just because things got dangerous. Anyway, there's no point in discussing a situation that will never happen."
The healer looked quizzical. "Tell me, Gabrielle, what do you get out of it? Your relationship with her? It's clear what she gets. What do you get?"
"She protects me."
"Yes, well, it seems that you wouldn't need protection from angry warlords and giants and mercenaries if you didn't travel with her."
"She protects me," said Gabrielle, "from having an ordinary life."
The next night, with the fever over and the crisis passed, Gabrielle sat outside the healer's cabin at a small campfire, which she poked at distractedly with a sharp stick.
Xena's imposing form appeared in the doorway. She was wearing only her cotton undergarment, and she was barefoot. Gabrielle looked up from the fire, and smiled a relieved smile.
Xena walked over and sat next to her friend.
"You're a puppy?" she said.
"Xena, if you ever tell anyone..."
"I can barely even remember what happened. I just remember I was scared and alone, and I could hear you but I couldn't see you. And then I woke up, and you kept insisting you were a puppy."
Xena's beautiful blue eyes glinted in a mischievous way.
"Why exactly were you a puppy?"
"I don't know. It's your dream."
Xena touched something on her face which had dried. It wasn't sweat.
"Just a dream, huh?"
"Well, maybe not. Look, Xena, I am whatever you need me to be at any hour of the day. I can't do what you can do. I can't fight off an army, or do backflips, or leap into the air past my own height. In my case that wouldn't be too damn high, anyway. But whatever I can do, whatever I can be, all that I am, or was, or ever will be, is yours. You know that. I'm your little puppy, I'm your bard, I'm your clown, I'm your minstrel, I'm your lo..."
Xena waited patiently for her to continue the L word.
"...long-time companion," she said. "Anything. I love you, Xena."
Xena smiled. "Gabrielle, if I was having a bad dream, why didn't you just wake me up?"
"What, and have you panic, and bat me across the room like a shuttlecock?"
"That's true," said Xena. "Your instincts were pretty good. Thank you. You are a beautiful, precious gift, Gabrielle, and I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to be worthy of you. And by the way, I love you, too."
Gabrielle smiled, and blushed, and looked down in embarrassment, and then shyly looked back at Xena. She wasn't used to compliments like this from the Warrior Princess. Gabrielle seemed to be smiling not just with her lips, but with her eyes, her cheeks, her cute little nose. Every part of her seemed to be smiling.
"Thank you," said Gabrielle.
"I just have one question," said Xena.
"Mew, mew, mew?"
"Puppy was studying a foreign language," she said.
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